The Mystery of Edwin Drood
Mad Cow Theater
Written by Rupert Holmes
Based on an incomplete novel by Charles Dickens
Directed by Mark Edward Smith
Musical Direction by Robby Stamper
Starring Phillip Nolan and Steven Lane
Of course, you knew Dickens tried to write a murder mystery, but he died mysteriously of a stroke before he could reveal the culprit. Oh, well, that’s life. But dedicated Dickens buffs all want to know how he planned to resolve the corpse, and tonight we do our audience best to help. The setting is a Victorian music hall staffed by women of low repute and men of tall headwear. Our Chairman of Ceremonies (who has an actual on-stage chair) is Philip Nolen, just the sort of comedian you might expect in this frivolous folly. He’s assisted by the John Wilks Boothish John Jasper (Lane) and of course the soon to be dead Mr. Drood (Hanna Laird). There’s the innocent girl (Jennafer Newbury), the older woman of negotiable honor (Megan Colleen Morony) and my favorite supporting drunk “Durdles”(Skylar J Keck). Honestly, who names a child “Durdles”? Right there, you have your classic Victorian child abuse, although he did grow into a successful alcoholic.
The story plunges forward like good Victorian army invading Botswana land. People meet for love, meet for dinner, fall in love, fall in rivers, and then the happy Mr. Drood turns all sad and floaty in the Thames. We stop, we vote, and then cast improvises its way through some backstory rationalizing all our personal bad decisions. It’s all great fun with the murder just an excuse to tell music hall jokes, ogle the women in their complex corsets and petticoats, and nudge, nudge, wink, wink with the racy double ententra’s. The show is all out funny with no pretense at a logical plot, which is good because inviting the audience to wrap up the writer’s block of death always exposes a show to uncertain risks. Very funny, very fulfilling and not a trace of holiday guilt or ghosts to get in the way of fun.